A client blew .02 and got charged with a DUI

What, you may ask? I thought the legal blood alcohol limit was .08, right? How can someone be that far under the limit and still get charged with a DUI?

Good question and this case have some good lessons for all of us.

First of all, what does .02 mean?  Does it mean my client had been drinking? Not necessarily. .02 could mean a beer much earlier in the day or leftover cough syrup from the night before.  A .02 could indicate the presence of mouthwash or even in odd occasions denture cream. In any event, .02 does not imply that you are impaired, simply that there is some residual alcohol in one’s bloodstream.

Even though my client blew under the legal limit, he still had to perform a field sobriety test.  In Florida, the police can request you to do a field sobriety test based on their reasonable belief that you are impaired… period.

Now we’ve all seen pictures of field sobriety tests on TV but you may be wondering what a modern field sobriety test actually consists of.  These days, most will make you perform some of the following tasks:

1) horizontal and vertical gaze nystagmus (the eye test)
2) walk and turn on the line
3) raise one leg and count (until they say stop)

For some people, this isn’t easy. This particular client has a problem with balance and coordination due to the fact that his overall physical condition is not good.  Performing the tasks that are most common on a field sobriety test is actually extremely challenging for this client, and he, therefore, failed the field sobriety test, even though he was sober.

Remember to check your medications, some indicate that you should not operate heavy machinery. Know your physical limitations and let the officers know for the record. If you do find yourself in a similar situation, make sure you hire an attorney who is familiar with medical ramifications of any pre-existing conditions and medications.

As we near the holidays everyone please be careful out there!